From Your Regular to Blockchain Engineer – Žarko’s Web3 Journey

Given the expansion of cryptocurrencies and web3 technologies, every blockchain engineer is pure gold. Therefore, lately, more developers have been thinking about switching from web2 to web3 space.

Zarko made the switch a little over a year ago. He is currently working as a Software Developer for the Cardano blockchain.

You could say he is a crypto enthusiast, but he is all about programming, not trading. He loves fixing things and enjoys hiking, diving, skiing, paragliding and of course, basketball. He became one of the MVPs last November, and this is his web3 story.

How did you come to be involved in programming?

Back in elementary school, I loved playing games. Computers weren’t so widespread at that time – my friend had Pravetz, a Bulgarian computer, a copy of the Apple 2. It had a 1MHz processor, 64kB of RAM and a limited number of games.

Pravetz 8M

At some point, we got bored of the games we had, so we wanted to make our own. We only had a book in Bulgarian from which we could learn programming in Basic and a neighbor who had experience in that area. So my friend, with the help of a book and a neighbor, was the first to start learning and passed everything on to me along the way.

Later we went to the computer science section, where we used Pekom 64 computers from Ei Nis and continued learning Basic. When I went to high school, I got my first computer – the long-awaited PC 486, and that’s how the story began.

What did you do before you got into web3?

I worked on an email marketing system, such as MailChimp, for a Canadian car company. There I maintained databases with millions of clients, worked on the development of web and desktop applications, and along the way maintained Linux and windows servers.

After that, I switched to the Android TV app as an Android developer, and then the IoT project intended to save and force green energy. Then I went back from Android to backend development and switched from using Java and C#, that I used to NodeJS.

The last product I worked on was Infotainment’s hotel and hospital app. It has integrated entertainment modules such as watching TV, video on demand and radio with modules that provide service information to hotel guests and hospital patients.

I was in charge of the complete product, from software architecture and development to talking to clients and maintaining the production environment and support. I led a team of mobile developers, full-stack developers, DevOps and testers.

Why did you decide to change the industry?

I was interested in Blockchain for a long time, and I also love adventures. Most of the things I do now are similar and backed up by the knowledge I gained earlier, but I needed something more challenging.

At one point, I just decided to finish everything I was working on at the moment, and move into a new, web3 world.

What were your beginnings in blockchain development?

In early 2017, I only knew about Bitcoin. I went to the Codestantine conference, where I heard for the first time that there are other networks where smart contracts can be written.

After the conference, I went with colleagues to an after-party where we asked the lecturers a million questions about blockchain and how it actually works. They talked about Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric and hooked us on this new technology.

We later explored independently and then came across the first Blockchain Hackathon at StartIT. In 48 hours, we absorbed a huge amount of knowledge from the people helping the teams.

How long did it take you to switch from web2 to web3?

As with everything new, it takes time to figure out a new concept, what blockchain is and how it works. But I would say that it takes a few months to get familiar with it. And then, when you start doing the actual programming, you learn that you have to forget everything you knew prior about it because blockchain is completely different.

You constantly gain resources and learn new languages. If you get into a team of people you can absorb knowledge from, it can be a big shortcut.

Which projects are you currently working on?

I’m working on a Revuto project – a very interesting story. It allows you to manage subscriptions towards other services. You often forget about one of the services you have subscribed to, and your money is regularly deducted from your account. Revuto doesn’t let you forget.

We are working on Cardano blockchain – but, I cannot reveal what exactly, since it will be published soon by Revuto. They are preparing a surprise for their customers.

Of the technologies for Cardano, we use Haskell, which compiles into Plutus Core and executes on Cardano nodes. From the off-chain part, we do TypeScript for the frontend and backend.

Also, here I used the previous knowledge of Linux administration to configure and use the Cardano command interface and configure the Cardano node as well as BASH to write automated scripts.

What drives you most?

Trying out new technologies and solving problems that few (or no one) have solved.

How did you get to MVP Workshop?

In all the companies I worked for, I studied new technologies. In the previous one, I lost that opportunity, had to focus on one thing and that was the reason I left. I had two options – either to try something on my own or to join the MVP Workshop, where the latest technologies are always made.

As I had previously collaborated with the company and had only positive experiences, this was an expected outcome. Back in 2017, I met a couple of people at the first Blockchain Hackathon, after which we continued our cooperation in the form of R&D for Celsius.

Early last year (2021), I set out to actively study Cardano, contacted friends from MVP Workshop and told them to call me when they needed Cardano developers. After a few months, that’s exactly what happened.

If you are looking for a job, take a look at open positions. We'd love to meet you!

Some advice for developers who want to enter the web3 space?

Whoever wants to embark on a web3 adventure, I recommend the YouTube channel Coin Bureau and Whiteboard Crypto. There, you can learn about different blockchain-related projects. If you would like to embark on Ethereum Water – Dapp University and be interested in Cardano, the starting point is the Plutus Pioneer Program.

Don’t despair if you fail to find a solution on StackOverflow. It’s about cutting-edge technology and maybe you’ll be the first to find the answer. It takes a lot of learning that brings a lot of excitement, new people and infinitely beautiful things. So, rock it!

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